‘Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company’string(80) "‘Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company’"

I just read a great book called Do you matter? How great design will make people love your companyCo-written by my good friend, bestselling author and corporate consultant Stewart Emery along with former Apple industrial design director Robert Brunner, the book begins by asking if you, in fact, matter to your customers.

bookcover.jpg

Think about it . . . this is a really important question.  Has your product, service or brand established an emotional connection with your customers to the extent that they’re invested in your lasting success?  If you disappeared, would their lives be diminished in some way?

As the book explains, when you know how to use design as a complete strategy, starting with the ideal customer experience and then building an internal supply chain to deliver in a way that exceeds expectations, you’ll create products, services and experiences that truly matter to your customers’ lives–and your business will thrive.  However, the reality is that few companies know how to create great design, and even fewer know how to implement a design strategy that will secure enduring success.

This book offers tremendous value to anyone who reads it because it clearly outlines how to transform any business into a design-driven business that follows in the steps of companies such as Nike, Apple, Ikea and BMW, all of which use design values to make a positve difference in the lives of their customers.  The authors also include some really great stories of successes as well as missed opportunities, all of which make it a really interesting read.

Well done, Stewart: I love the book.

To find out more about the book, click here.

Penny Wise and Time Foolishstring(27) "Penny Wise and Time Foolish"

mikemacedonio_77.jpgMy  good friend and partner in the Referral Institute, Mike Macedonio (pictured here), is my guest blogger today.  He recently wrote a great article about referrals that takes an interesting look at the two investments involved in referral marketing–time and money.  If you want to learn how to avoid falling into the trap of being penny wise and time foolish, I recommend that you read this material–it’s great content.

Penny Wise and Time Foolish
By Mike Macedonio

Is it just me or is anyone else shaking their head at the assertion that “word-of-mouth marketing and referral marketing are FREE advertising.” Clearly, referral marketing (done properly) is a cost-effective way to get businness, but the only way I can possibly see making it FREE is to do nothing at all.

So what is the investment for referral marketing? There are two investments with building your business by referral: time and money. I’m surprised when I ask business owners how much they are investing in referral marketing and they don’t have any idea. Is it because it is so cost-effective that they don’t think it is worth budgeting or tracking? Maybe. However, I also see businesspeople turn down opportunities to get involved in networking organizations, acquire training, attend conferences or sponsor strategic alliance events for financial reasons.

What about the hidden cost? How much time are you spending networking and meeting with referral sources?  What is your time worth? Often when I ask that question, I get the billable rate.  Here is the simple formula I use. How much you earn, divided by how much you work. For example, if you’re making $120,000 a year working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks a year, your time is worth $60 per hour. You may be billing $150 per hour; however, after you factor in everything else you are doing, this is what your time is returning to you.

When you consider that the serious active networker will spend eight hours a week attending networking events, networking online, meeting with referral sources and giving time to activities with his network, that works out to 400 hours per year or $24,000 of time invested a year. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like FREE to me.

Referral marketing is the most cost-effective way to grow your business. Getting the best return on your time and money requires a clear referral marketing plan. Will you be spending your time doing the right things, with the right people, in the right organizations? Investing in referral marketing knowledge will help you get the best return for your time investment.  Be careful not to fall into the common trap of being penny wise and time foolish with your referral marketing.  Create a budget and invest appropriately in your referral marketing.

I’d love to pass your feedback about this article along to Mike, so feel free to leave any comments below.

Join Me in Las Vegas on March 19-21string(35) "Join Me in Las Vegas on March 19-21"

I’d like to take this opportunity to personally invite all of my blog readers to join me in Las Vegas, Nev., less than two weeks from now for the iLearningGlobal Launch Conference and Mastermind Event.

I will be speaking at the conference on Friday, March 2o, and I would love the opportunity to meet you face-to-face.  John McLelland, CEO of iLearningGlobal, has generously provided me with a link to share with my network that offers a 10 percent discount on registration fees.  In addition, if you use this link to register for the event, iLearningGlobal will donate $50 to the BNI Foundation in your name to promote children’s education worldwide!  CLICK HERE to take advantage of this offer and register for the event, and feel free to pass this offer along to your friends, family and colleagues.

Not only is this event going to be an amazing networking opportunity, it also features 14 of the world’s foremost authorities on success and achievement, such as Bill Bartmann, Tony Alessandra and Steve Siebold, just to name a few.

My friend Brian Tracy said, “Getting ahead in this uncertain time can be a great challenge, but considering the economy’s potential for future growth, it can also be a great opportunity.”  I think the iLearningGlobal conference is extremely important in relation to this idea because one of the main goals is to enable people to access the tools and resources they need to really build business–especially during a down economy.

History has shown that more fortunes are built on the back of a down economy than a good one, but in order to succeed you have to follow the pattern of the most successful people in history and become a lifelong learner.

I am really looking forward to participating in the iLearningGlobal Launch Conference, and it would be great to be able to connect with my blog readers there.  CLICK HERE to register for the event and CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about iLearningGlobal.

Don’t Forget About VCP When Networking Onlinestring(51) "Don’t Forget About VCP When Networking Online"

I’ve always believed that it’s critical for businesspeople to participate in a range of networks, from fairly informal networks like chambers of commerce to dedicated networks like BNI, where people meet to pass referrals.  More recently, online business networks such as Linkedin and Ecademy have emerged, and these should now also be part of your networking activity.

The important thing to learn and remember when you’re first getting involved in online networks is that the same principles apply to online and offline networking.

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised–people behave differently online. Here’s what I mean. I recommend that people follow a VCP Process® in their networking, both online and offline.  That is, your networking efforts must begin by achieving Visibility. Next, you can build Credibility in the network. Then, and only then, should you seek Profitability through pursuing business relationships with your contacts.ybc.jpg

What happens in online networks, however, is that people try to skip “V” and “C” and jump straight to “P.” In other words, they start hunting for referrals before they have built up trust and relationships with the people they want to do business with.

I give my thoughts on how to approach online business networking in my latest show on online business TV network yourBusinessChannel.  You can watch it for free by clicking here.

The 10 Commandments of Business Networkingstring(42) "The 10 Commandments of Business Networking"

A friend of mine, Melinda Potcher, adapted some of my material and created the 10 Commandments of Business Networking.

She did a great job, and I thought I’d share it with everyone here on my blog.

 

1. Thou Shalt Not Sell To Me. If we’re trying to help one another get more business, you tell me your target market, I tell you my target market and when we are out in the world, we speak well of one another and refer one another. Do not try to sell me–I’m your referral resource. If I need your product or service, know that I will call you.  Use our relationship to sell through me, to get to those 250-plus people I know.

2. Thou Shalt Understand The Law of Reciprocity. If I’m sending you business, please keep me top of mind. Giving me a new client is the best thank you I can receive, and I will continue working to find you referrals if I know you appreciate me.

3. Thou Shalt Not Abuse Our Relationship. Sending me a bogus referral just to use me, my expertise or my resources for free without asking permission first is the fastest way to lose my respect.

4. Thou Shalt Not Be Late . If we have a meeting set to get to know one another and strategize how we can refer each other business, do not reschedule our appointment more than twice. I blocked a chunk of time in my schedule FOR YOU, and I respect you enough to be on time.

5. Thou Shalt Be Specific . Specific Is Terrific! If you tell me your target market is “anybody” or “everybody,” that means nobody to me. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for me to find you business.

6. Thou Shalt Take Your Business Seriously . As your networking partner, I need to know your intentions.If your company is a hobby business, it will be difficult for me to assist you. If it’s part-time, you are limited in the time you spend working on your business and working to find me referrals. However, if you’re working your business part time with a goal of making it full time, I am there for you, 100 percent.

7. Thou Shalt Follow Up On Referrals. When I send you business, please follow up with that prospect in a timely fashion–say 24 hours. If you’re going out of town or will not be available for some time, a quick e-mail or phone call to the person to let them know when you will be available will preserve your credibility and protect my reputation in recommending you to someone I know and care about.

8. Thou Shalt Communicate. If I do something to upset you, send you a “bad” referral or cause you to have ill feelings toward me, please communicate with me as soon as possible. I may not be aware I have caused a problem for you; if you tell me, I can try to fix it. Referral networking is about relationships! Relationships and referrals are at the heart of my business.

9. Thou Shalt Protect My Reputation. Most people would rather die than risk their reputations. If I receive feedback from a referral I have sent you that is disparaging or derogatory, it is as though you cut me off at the knees. Please do what you say you will do and live up to the ethical standards of your profession.

10. Thou Shalt Prepare For Success. If you really want to grow your business, then prepare to receive it. I will move mountains for my networking partners to ensure they get referrals on a consistent basis. I am a Ninja Networker–you may not always see me working on your behalf.

Thanks to Melinda. You can visit her website at: HomeLoansAlbuquerque.com

What do you think?  Would you add anything to this list (OK, I know you can’t have “11 Commandments,” but play with me here).

Read the Paper, with Referral Intent . . .string(42) "Read the Paper, with Referral Intent . . ."

 

Most people read the newspaper to gain insight into local and world events and news–and that’s all.  I’m suggesting that you try reading the paper a little differently–to look for opportunities for referrals.

Pick up your local newspaper and scan the front page. Turn to the local section, then the business news, and then the lifestyle section. The paper is teeming with opportunities for you to act as a gatekeeper for the people in your network. Every page presents problems or significant issues of one kind or another.

What are people saying? Who is talking about problems or changes in her company or industry?  What is happening that could have a direct impact on you or someone in your network?  Who is in need of the services of someone you know?  Where are there networking opportunities for you and your marketing team?

So why not start out by reading the paper this week with referral intent for two people in your network?  Find each of them an opportunity or a lead that they might capitalize on through their network.  Then find your own business a lead or two on which you can capitalize, and begin to ask your network for help in making the connection for you.

Clearly, these are more “leads” than “referrals.” However, there’s nothing wrong with telling a business associate about the details you just read about relating to a new company moving into town.  It’s good to show your referral partners you are looking out for them and–you never know–it could turn into something good.

Try this strategy out and then come back and leave a comment to let me know how it worked out–I’m very interested to see what happens!

Networking is a Verb Not a Nounstring(31) "Networking is a Verb Not a Noun"

Today, I have a guest blog written by my good friend Frank DeRaffele.  Frank is a BNI Director and radio talk show host for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Radio Show.

Networking is a Verb Not a Noun.  What does that mean?  A verb, as described, by our 4th grade teachers, is an action word. A noun is an object or thing. That means that in order to network you must take action … do stuff … not just show up at things and be seen. If you go to a chamber meeting and just “be there” then you are a noun … you are just an object. If you go and actually participate and make things happen … you are now taking action … you’re a verb.

You are not going to find any form of marketing more important and probably more effective than your networking efforts during the next 12 to 24 months. That means that no matter what type of marketing campaigns you are doing they will be 5 to 10 times more effective if you are supplementing them with relationship networking.

If you are in a strong contact network (such as BNI) you have an advantage over every other businesses out there, especially your competitors. You have a group of like-minded people who believe in the development of relationship marketing and they practice the Givers Gain® philosophy.

There is no recesssion for you … so go take action … go BE A VERB!

Triple Your Business Revenue By Writingstring(39) "Triple Your Business Revenue By Writing"

A business contact of mine telephoned me awhile back to ask why I wasn’t including writing in my business training anymore. I had previously included it in my training sessions because I think it is an extremely valuable way to establish credibility in business. However, when I checked the numbers, I realized that only about 2 percent of the people I trained in writing really picked up on the message and followed through.

In other words, 98 percent of people I trained never used the advice at all. So of course I stopped teaching it. Well, my business associate asserted over the phone that I should be training on writing regardless of the small number of people who were doing something with the advice because, he claimed, the results for the people that do take action are absolutely phenomenal. He urged me to include writing in my business training because it is worth teaching for the sake of those 2 percent who get amazing results.

In my most recent show on yourBusinessChannel.com, I talk more about how this business colleague of mine took my advice on writing years ago and turned his business around. By his own calculations, he tripled his revenue by becoming a well-published author of business articles.

Watch the show HERE and then think about how writing might help you increase your business revenue.  Will it take hard work and dedication? Yes.  Is that hard work and dedication worth the results you will get? Definitely.

Do What Others Don’tstring(26) "Do What Others Don’t"

To some businessspeople, networking is something to try when they’re hurting for business.  However, networking is actually a primary strategy for generating business relationships that lead to more referrals.  When done correctly, networking is a proactive strategy for business growth, not a reaction to slow business.

I think the most important single idea in networking is to do what others don’t.  Doing what others don’t gives you an edge.  It can position you head and shoulders above your competition.  It helps you stand out in a positive way and, when you do, people are attracted to you and your business, and your success grows stronger, deeper and more durable.

So go beyond the norm. Take the time to gather information for improving your business by getting straightforward feedback from people.  This will help you identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses so you can take corrective action.  Some more ideas that most people don’t take the time or effort to implement are:

  •  Adopt the attitude of a host at networking mixers.
  • Use your influence and professional status to help members of your network solve problems.
  • Learn to specifically ask for referrals.
  • Take every opportunity to educate yourself on how to better your business and your networking efforts.

Networking Entrepreneur Blog is in The Top 30string(45) "Networking Entrepreneur Blog is in The Top 30"

I’m pleased to let my readers know that this blog has been ranked as one of the top 30 blogs for Entrepreneurs.  It was ranked No. 26 out of 150 blogs by eCairn.com as shown here by the InvenioGroup.com website.

Thanks to all of you for reading this blog.  A special thanks to the many of you who regularly leave comments.

All the best.

Ivan Misner

International Networking Week: Mark Your Calendarstring(49) "International Networking Week: Mark Your Calendar"

International Networking Week, Feb. 2-6, 2009, is quickly approaching and it’s a great way to start off the New Year.

Make 2009 the year you see opportunity when others see problems, seek growth when others expect collapse and see success when others see failure.  Watch the short 2009 International Networking Week video and find out about how to join me and many other successful business people in recognizing and participating in this year’s International Networking Week. Focus on what you do best, and don’t let other people sidetrack you from building your business.

WATCH THE 2009 INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING WEEK VIDEO HERE!

The New Year is a Time for Vision Makingstring(40) "The New Year is a Time for Vision Making"

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, Calif., to recharge my batteries. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give thought to the vision you have for your business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at.  The new year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond).  Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time every January to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business.  Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business.  Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for 2009.

Happy New Year!

Ivan

1 30 31 32 33 34 36